We all have days in our jobs that leave us feeling deflated and questioning our career choices. This can be down to colleagues, clients or daily tasks and plenty of us believe these burdens could be eased with a higher salary. When searching for a new role, the key factor is salary and it is always at the forefront of applicants minds, but will financially progressing in our careers really make us happier?
Wages are important, we all have bills to pay and families to provide for. We often push ourselves to learn more in our professional lives so we can appear more appealing to recruiters or hold a better position to negotiate a pay rise. Online courses with recognized CPD certification have seen a surge over the years as employees seek to gain knowledge, without having to disrupt their daily lives with conventional schooling and university.
While it is always encouraging to see people across the globe seeking an education, in any manner, it begs the questions, are they doing so for better understanding in a field or if it purely to financially benefit from this. Can money really buy us happiness? It can certainly ease stress but are there professions that pay a higher than average salary but are unhappy?
A recent survey from The ONS has revealed correlations between earnings and employee happiness which provides some interesting insights.
Weekly Earnings and Happiness
Various industries were surveyed and asked to provide their levels of happiness vs their average weekly earnings. Of those industries, the highest correlation between the two was the retail, trade and repairs sector.
With a 92% correlation, it appears retail workers feel happier in their lives as their wages increase. Other industries with high correlation were accommodation and food services, education, administration and manufacturing (engineering and allied industries).
But it appears not all sectors can find happiness in higher earnings. Mining and quarrying revealed a tiny 22% correlation.
Why these happiness levels were so low was not disclosed but we can easily speculate. Sectors such as this are demanding careers. Physical and mental health can be impacted by the demand of such a role and can take its toll on an employee.
Long-term health impacts can’t be compensated, even with higher earnings and despite employers attempting to do so.
This does not mean that sectors with higher industries are not demanding, but workers recouped with more money.
Anxiety and Earnings
Despite what many may believe, we can possess both happiness in our lives and anxiety together, they do not cancel each other out.
As wages increase, many industries reported an increase in anxiety levels, including retail, manufacturing and education. In fact, almost all industries who reported higher happiness levels alongside higher earnings reported higher anxiety levels.
We can hypothesis that as wages increase, so does responsibility. Even the most experienced staff members can mentally suffer from increasing authority and it can take its toll on our mental health.
Could this be down to more money before poured into wages and less into staff training that could ease this anxiety with more knowledge?
The report also revealed that health and social work has the lowest correlation between the two. This is an industry that is notorious with high anxiety levels and extreme cases of poor mental health.
However, as wages increase, anxiety does not. Perhaps this could be that with experience comes a better means of coping.
Anxiety and Living Comfortably
Living comfortably does not always mean high wage levels, rather the employee is earning enough to not be struggling with their financial commitments.
65% of those living comfortably reported high levels of anxiety and 90% of those who are completely satisfied with their earning reported the same.
Again, this is most likely down to job responsibilities increasing with wage and causing these issues. Overall, the more satisfied employees are with wages, the worse their mental health becomes.
Bonuses and Happiness
Bonuses are offered through the working world to boost staff morale and increase productivity. But employers may be shocked to find that the outcome from bonuses is not always what they are striving for.
There was very little correlation between bonuses and happiness levels within the study. The highest correlation was just 41% in the construction industry.
Most bonuses are performance-related, employees often have to push themselves to meet targets to achieve this and often the outcome does not justify the means. It could also be down to the sum of the bonus not justify enough for a change in attitude.
Income Satisfaction and Happiness
We don’t have to be on an extravagant wage to have income satisfaction, even those on a modest salary can be satisfied with what they are paid. This is all relative to the amount of skill and effort put into a role and the pay that is rewarded for it.
Industries with the largest correlation between income satisfaction and happiness were almost identical to those who reported higher weekly earnings and their correlation with happiness levels.
Retail, trade and repairs came on top once again at 88%, while mining and quarrying were bottom with 9%. Again, this is most likely due to the poor working conditions of the sector.
Overall, we can see that money can bring happiness, but only within certain sectors. If we want to increase our wages, we must be prepared to take on higher levels of anxiety and sacrifice our mental health to some extent.
To be fully satisfied with our income, stress levels will increase and even though we may be able to live comfortably, we could struggle to enjoy this due to increasing pressure in the workplace.